Bombing Auschwitz

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MIflyer

1st Lieutenant
6,572
13,042
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
There was a PBS show on TV a few nights ago on bombing the Auschwitz concentration camp. It described how a couple of Jewish men escaped from Auschwitz in April 1944 and described the operation of the place to the Allies. That began a discussion of the possibility of bombing the camp. They quickly concluded that the USAAF would be the only force capable of handing the mission. It would have to be a daylight mission, and since Auschwitz is in Poland it was far beyond the range of anything but heavy bombers. Churchill initially was in favor of the bombing but never pressed it, and of course the RAF could not have done it anyway. Needless to say, in April 1944 the Allies had targets fare more vital than Auschwitz.

In the end the decision was not made to bomb the place, although the USAAF did hit it later, that was due to a navigational mistake. Their actual intended target was the IG Farben chemical factory 5 MILES AWAY. That attack killed a few prisoners and 15 SS guards.

On the TV show some modern day commentators and analysts said that the camp should have been bombed as an expression of "moral outrage." They did not seem the least bit bothered that such an attack would have killed thousands of innocent prisoners; I guess the figured they were all good as dead anyway. I do not think we have ever got to the point where killing innocent prisoners as an expression of outrage is acceptable to our military. And how many of our own people would we be willing to lose to display "moral outrage?"

Back in the summer of 2001 a lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court, District of Columbia, against the United States on the basis that the USAAF could have bombed the rail lines leading to Auschwitz to shut the place down. It appears that the people at the law firm that filed that suit could neither read a map nor knew diddly squat about WWII airplanes. Once again, heavy bombers on a daylight raid would have been the only way to hit those rail lines and the USAAF did not do high altitude bombing of rail lines when they wanted to destroy the railroads. They could not see the rail lines from altitude; they aimed for cities. For the October 1943 raid on Munster the objective was the railroad marshaling yards. The 8th AF aiming point was the city's cathedral, not because they had anything against churches but because the bomb pattern would spread back from the cathedral onto the rail yards and the associated housing for the people who worked there.

So, if you want to take out the rail lines leading to Auschwitz you first figure out which Polish cities and villages you want to flatten in order to do that; that's the only way to find the rail lines from 25,000 ft, even in daylight.

The book "The Bombing of Auschwitz" raises the possibility of doing a precision strike against the creamatoriums. One option might have been an approach used against the Ploesti oil facilities. A large force of P-38's some serving as escort with others equipped with one bomb and one drop tank, staged out of Italy refueled on a tiny island in the Adriatic and then flew to hit the oil targets. Presumably something similar could have been done to
dive bomb Auschwitz targets or the rail lines more selectively, although the Ploesti mission was not exactly a rousing success and teh P-38 pilost described it as a hair-raising experience. Aside from that, I don't see how destroying crematoriums would keep the Nazis from killing people.

Some today say that the refusal of the USAAF to hit the rail lines or Auschwitz targets was an example of anti-semitism. I think it was because the leaders were focused on winning the war rather than demonstrations of "moral outrage." But as the old saying goes, nothing is impossible for the man who does not have to do it himself.
 
Though much earlier in the war, bombing Auschwitz was discussed earlier in this thread.


One general observation is that the genocide would not have stopped by bombing Auschwitz (or key installatuions in it) alone. Unfortunately the death factories was a large and dispersed system, with Auschwitz taken out other camps, death or transit, could have gotten some more unfortunate individuals. Of course that would have added to general logistical problems, to start with the death camps was intended to raise effisiency. But people could still be shot, starved or otherwise disposed of.

In 1986, around this time of year, I spent some freezing hours in Theresienstadt. Though this was 'merely' a transit camp, people were clearly dying there too. Auschwitz have become a symbol, but unfortunately it was only the tip of the iceberg.
 
My understanding is that some Jewish leaders in America and England voiced support for bombing the death camp even though it would mean Jews getting killed, but any raid was rejected as being a nonsolution. I can't remember who it was in 8th AF who made the call, but the thinking was that more good would be done for Jews by using those bombers against military targets.

I suppose an escorted mission could have been mounted from Foggia, as its air distance from Auschwitz is less than the air distance between East Anglia and Berlin, which P-51s managed.

I don't think it would be worth mounting in the scheme of things. The Germans had the industrialized murder infrastructure to simply move the mass murders elsewhere, or use another means to kill those poor folk.
 
A book I have, "In the Shadows of War" describes experiences of a B-17 pilot, Roy Allen, who was shot down on 14 June 1944 while on a mission intended to support the invasion of Normandy. He was hidden by the French in the village of Jouy and probably should have just stayed put and waited for our troops. But he wanted to get moving and was betrayed by a French traitor, who had taken his identity documents, and was sent to Auschwitz. He finally managed to contact the Luftwaffe and after interrogation to confirm he really was a USAAF pilot, was sent to a Stalag.

Interestingly enough, Auschwitz was owned by the Nazis but run internally by the Communists. The Nazis knew the Communists could run a death camp, and they tossed them in there too and let them run it.
 
I've had this conversation and it never ends well with folks that don't have better knowledge of WWII.

In trying to explain that simply bombing Auschwitz would not save anyone, I get shut down.

There's several key factors that make such a bombing raid ineffective, first of which, is Auschwitz was a complex of camps with nearby factories. Bombing the main camp would not stop the others. Damaging or destroying any (or all) of the Auschwitz camps would see the flow of prisoners diverted to other nearby camps. If rail is not available, then by way of death marches (as they actually did when the Red Army approached).
Bombing the rail system would require constant raids, as the railroad would be quickly repaired after each raid as was done in other areas, and due to the proximity of the camps, forced labor will surely be used.

After any raid, AA positions will most certainly be allocated, making any future raids even more risky.

Precision strikes again't any particular building (SS Heaquartes, I.G. Farben werks, etc.) would first have to be identified through intelligence and aside from the Allies being made aware of the complex, I haven't read just how much detail of the complex they were aware of until war's end.
 
IMO there was also the possibility that it may have sped up the killing of Jews.

As long as the camps were left alone, the Nazi hierarchy may have been thinking that the Allies simply saw them as POW camps. If the Allies start bombing them, then it confirms that the Allies knew that everyone in the place was as good as dead.
 
The Nazis arrested the Communists and put them in Auschwitz. Being Communists, they took over the place's internal activities. If you don't believe me, read the book, "In the Shadows of War" by Thomas Childers.
 
The Nazis arrested the Communists and put them in Auschwitz. Being Communists, they took over the place's internal activities. If you don't believe me, read the book, "In the Shadows of War" by Thomas Childers.
I have not heard of him before but I have read a significant number of works on the topic.

No one else has mentioned a "commie takeover" of any of the camps. The SS would not have allowed them to have any power.
 
The Nazis arrested the Communists and put them in Auschwitz. Being Communists, they took over the place's internal activities. If you don't believe me, read the book, "In the Shadows of War" by Thomas Childers.

Thanks, now it is clear to me who was actually running the Nazi death camps.

One can make the mental picture of the order form for the Zyklon B:
"Wee need 20 tons of Zyklon B for concentration camp XYZ.
signed: comrade Tckaikovsky"

smh
 
The Nazis arrested the Communists and put them in Auschwitz. Being Communists, they took over the place's internal activities. If you don't believe me, read the book, "In the Shadows of War" by Thomas Childers.
That's different form running the camp.
They also used Jews to do some of the internal duties within the camps, so its not a big jump to see them using other prisoners, such as political prisoners, to carry out other managerial type duties.
 
There was a PBS show on TV a few nights ago on bombing the Auschwitz concentration camp. It described how a couple of Jewish men escaped from Auschwitz in April 1944 and described the operation of the place to the Allies. That began a discussion of the possibility of bombing the camp. They quickly concluded that the USAAF would be the only force capable of handing the mission. It would have to be a daylight mission, and since Auschwitz is in Poland it was far beyond the range of anything but heavy bombers. Churchill initially was in favor of the bombing but never pressed it, and of course the RAF could not have done it anyway. Needless to say, in April 1944 the Allies had targets fare more vital than Auschwitz.

In the end the decision was not made to bomb the place, although the USAAF did hit it later, that was due to a navigational mistake. Their actual intended target was the IG Farben chemical factory 5 MILES AWAY. That attack killed a few prisoners and 15 SS guards.

On the TV show some modern day commentators and analysts said that the camp should have been bombed as an expression of "moral outrage." They did not seem the least bit bothered that such an attack would have killed thousands of innocent prisoners; I guess the figured they were all good as dead anyway. I do not think we have ever got to the point where killing innocent prisoners as an expression of outrage is acceptable to our military. And how many of our own people would we be willing to lose to display "moral outrage?"

Back in the summer of 2001 a lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court, District of Columbia, against the United States on the basis that the USAAF could have bombed the rail lines leading to Auschwitz to shut the place down. It appears that the people at the law firm that filed that suit could neither read a map nor knew diddly squat about WWII airplanes. Once again, heavy bombers on a daylight raid would have been the only way to hit those rail lines and the USAAF did not do high altitude bombing of rail lines when they wanted to destroy the railroads. They could not see the rail lines from altitude; they aimed for cities. For the October 1943 raid on Munster the objective was the railroad marshaling yards. The 8th AF aiming point was the city's cathedral, not because they had anything against churches but because the bomb pattern would spread back from the cathedral onto the rail yards and the associated housing for the people who worked there.

So, if you want to take out the rail lines leading to Auschwitz you first figure out which Polish cities and villages you want to flatten in order to do that; that's the only way to find the rail lines from 25,000 ft, even in daylight.

The book "The Bombing of Auschwitz" raises the possibility of doing a precision strike against the creamatoriums. One option might have been an approach used against the Ploesti oil facilities. A large force of P-38's some serving as escort with others equipped with one bomb and one drop tank, staged out of Italy refueled on a tiny island in the Adriatic and then flew to hit the oil targets. Presumably something similar could have been done to
dive bomb Auschwitz targets or the rail lines more selectively, although the Ploesti mission was not exactly a rousing success and teh P-38 pilost described it as a hair-raising experience. Aside from that, I don't see how destroying crematoriums would keep the Nazis from killing people.

Some today say that the refusal of the USAAF to hit the rail lines or Auschwitz targets was an example of anti-semitism. I think it was because the leaders were focused on winning the war rather than demonstrations of "moral outrage." But as the old saying goes, nothing is impossible for the man who does not have to do it himself.
Nothing to do with Auchwitz but when 463 RAAF were told to dig up the track - they set a time release interval on the bomb aimers "Mickey Mouse" release and dropped a 500 pounder every few hundred yards as they flew straight and level with little opposition. Not very easy to repair quickly!
 
The philosophy of the U.S., since the Civil War, was that by ending the war as quickly as possible, you would save lives in the long run. The USAAF was doing the best they could in that regard. Diversionary efforts were not appreciated. Even the effort against the V-1 sites was taken reluctantly.
Additionally, there was always the threat of the Camp Guards shutting the place down by simply killing everyone. That was the justification for the Philippine raid on the POW camp. Destroying the rail system and thus cutting off food and supplies to that, or any camp, would only hurt the inmates more.
 
The Nazis arrested the Communists and put them in Auschwitz. Being Communists, they took over the place's internal activities. If you don't believe me, read the book, "In the Shadows of War" by Thomas Childers.

"In the Shadows of War" he is not talking of the Buchenwald lager?
 

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